There’s nothing more adorable than the sight of a toddler happily immersed in an afternoon of play. Wee hands stack blocks and peals of excited laughter escape from his tiny body as playtime ensues. But when two toddlers come face to face during playtime, they’re ready for a showdown, and their battle cry in a playground full of toys rings: It’s mine!
“If I want it, it’s mine!”
The toddler’s creed goes something like this: “If I want it, it’s mine. If I take it away from you, it’s mine. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine!” and so on. “A toddler is very egocentric at this stage, and this is why he refuses to share his toys, his prized possessions,” explains JP Sordan, preschool teacher at Summit School in Taguig City. What goes on in a toddler’s mind when he refuses to share?
Ina Syquia, curriculum directress of L.E.A.P. in Quezon City sheds some light on this troubling toddler puzzle. “First, you have to think of your toddler’s characteristics and his needs,” she begins. When your child passes his first year, he will realize the desire to be independent, but becoming aware of this newfound need is equally frustrating. At the time of his life when the world is both an exciting an overwhelming place, a toddler can’t help but assert his claim over everything he sets his eyes on. “They’re determined to master control whatever it is that’s going on around them,” says Syquia, who has a Master’s degree in Infant Toddler Studies from Wheelock College in Massachusetts.
“If I take it away from you, it’s mine!”
When caught between two quarrelling tykes, neither will back down until you play referee!
“They feel like the world revolves around them,” Sordan says. But there’s no need to worry about your toddler growing up to be a selfish individual; he just hasn’t fully comprehended his needs and his feelings more so those of another toddler’s. “They are in that developmental stage wherein they cannot empathize yet. They don’t know that they’re hurting another child’s feelings when they refuse to share” Sordan continues.
At this developmental stage you can’t expect two toddlers to play together just yet. The most these tots can do is sit side by side—and hope that a toddler squabble won’t arise during playtime. But what can you do to keep this from happening? Here are some tips from Sordan and Syquia:
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● Double the fun. Make sure you have duplicates of the children’s toys. This way, both toddlers will remain happily engrossed with their own set of markers or blocks and won’t notice the other’s play things. Also, before going on a play date, sit with your toddler and look at his toys. Bring only the toys he is willing to share with his playmates.
● Parents’ intervention. If toddlers have to share their toys, then you must act as mediator between the tots. When sharing markers as they draw, you’ll have to make sure that toddlers take turns. “Can she borrow the marker?” And if he says no, you then say, “Okay, but in 10 counts, can you lend it?” Syquia suggests. “Taking turns can be expected as long as there is a guarantee that the toddler will get the toy back,” she adds.
● Praise in play. “Always encourage them to share and don’t forget to praise them when they do,” says Sordan. What’s important for a toddler is to feel that what he’s doing is right, so after he shares or takes turns with another child, be generous with praise. Remind your little one to also say thank you. This way, the behavior that you want your child to follow is acknowledged, and
He’s sure to remember it next time.
Click here to read more about how to handle situations where toddlers refuse to share.